Flatout 4: Total Insanity will be out on PC next month, but can already be enjoyed on the PS4 and Xbox One. We took a look at the Xbox version of the game.
Since the mid-nineties, for about 10 years, we had a period where vehicular carnage was big in videogames. Really big. There was Destruction Derby on the original Playstation, Carmageddon, the Burnout series and Flatout, just to name a few. Carmageddon hasn’t had much luck mounting a comeback, and now it’s Flatout’s turn.
The first two Flatout games were very well received, and are classics in their own right. The third game bombed, and because of that Flatout 4 has a lot of ground to make up for. When we heard that developer Kylotonn was taking over development duties, it sounded like good news to us. We had seen their work on the WRC franchise, and out of all the recent rally racing titles theirs was the most arcade-oriented – a good match for Flatout. For the most part, that was a pretty good hunch.
Flatout 4: Total Insanity tries to cater to a lot of audiences. The standard career mode is very much racing-oriented, with plenty of semi-optional mayhem thrown in as well. There is also another career-like mode called Flatout mode, which sees a return to Flatout’s classic partygame-like modes that include ejecting your driver from the car mid-flight to score points by aiming at a target or getting as high as possible.
Flatout mode is definitely the most unique of the two, and also our favorite. Some minigames focus on destruction, others on fun, but doing well of whatever challenge you’re tackling means you unlock more and more and the experience is consistently engaging and fun. The regular career mode is fun to play as well, but severely hindered by balance and physics issues.
If you stick to purely racing, then you stand a pretty decent chance of finishing near the front of the pack – especially if you use your nitro boosts wisely. However, you gain way more rewards by also driving dangerously and crashing into objects and opponents, and that’s the tradeoff you’re constantly making. The problem with this is that it feels like an almost impossible balance – bumping into too many things feels like a surefire way to NOT finish on the podium.
So in practice you’re either racing purely and finishing well until you hit a wall with a car that needs upgrading in order to keep winning, or you’re replaying the same events multiple times to earn some more cash so you can actually win the race with an upgraded car. I couldn’t help but feel like this could have used a little more fine-tuning.
Flatout mode is more rewarding in that sense, as unlocking events and chasing after people on leaderboards is fun – and so are the local multiplayer options that you have while playing these minigames. There is plenty of diversity here, which makes up for the relatively low amount of tracks available in the regular career mode.
Kylotonn has created a good looking arcade racer with Flatout 4, which provides the visual leap we’ve been waiting for since Flatout 2. It’s too bad that balancing issues keep the game from being all that is can be, but hopefully we’ll see a few more improvements with subsequent updates – the groundwork is already here, and it’s good. Let’s hope it gets even better.